Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, Jan 7, 2014 ***1/2

By Erth Visual and Physical Inc. written & directed by Scott Wright

Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, Jan 7 to 19, 2014

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

Stars: ***1/2
Review also published in Herald Sun, Jan 9, 2014. KH
If you ever wanted to hug a carnivorous dinosaur then Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, a simple but inventive puppet show, is just the ticket.

Kids are invited on stage to stroke cute baby dinoosaurs, hypnotise an inquisitive Leaellynasaura, catch a mega-dragonfly, and one little boy even sticks his head into the mouth of an enormous, toothy Australovenator.

It sounds risky, but this show, written and directed by Scott Wright, is all safe, cute fun with a few joyfully scary bits to make the children (5 years +) squeal with delight.

Compere, Michael Cullen, is the most charming palaeontologist imaginable, and he cleverly weaves fascinating dinosaur facts into his introductions to the various creatures, all of which were indigenous to Australia 65 million years ago.

Three puppeteers (Andrew Blizzard, Sam Hayes, Samantha Hickey,) skilfully manipulate and animate the animals (designed by Steve Howarth), breathing life into them as they walk, run, attack, purr and roar, until we forget that they are not flesh and blood.

Dinosaur Zoo is a smart, educational piece that demonstrates how museums can use entertainment to encourage children to learn more about our great, extinct fauna.

The two Leallynasauras are uncannily lifelike with their huge eyes, ungainly but realistic, emu-like walk and scaly reptile hide.

The carnivorous Australovenator, the skeleton of which was discovered in Victoria only 8 years ago, is a huge hit with its sudden, menacing rushes at the child-wranglers, its huge, ripping teeth and fearsome roar.

“What do carnivores eat?” “Meat,” shout the children. ”And what are kids made of|?” taunts Michael. “Meat,” they shriek excitedly.

The ridiculously long-necked Titanosaur, a herbavore with a peanut-sized brain, was a fun addition, but it seems as if the show, at 45 minutes, needs a couple more dinosaurs to feel complete.

However, if the kids want more, they can pet some critters in the foyer after the show – then go home and read up on dinosaurs on their I Pads.

By Kate Herbert

 Andrew Blizzard with baby dino

No comments:

Post a Comment